Date of Award


Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Dr. R. Barry Levis

Second Advisor

Dr. Denise Cummings


Certain films and television programs depicting fathers have both enduring popularity and have reflected the advances in the institution of fatherhood. This has happened because of a symbiosis that has delivered positive results: popular films and television shows that earn money for producers and advertisers have depicted fathers who have changed to reflect the popular example. These depictions have contributed in their way to mending the family dynamic, specifically related to the father’s essential role in the family. Such family-oriented films and television shows have effectively showed fathers (and men that would become fathers) that they could be much more than a stereotype. These pages will show how these films and television programs have reflected how the institution of fatherhood has changed over time in America and how these shows and films have modeled, instructed, and encouraged fathers and future fathers to be more, deliver more and influence their children in a more positive direction. The changes in the institution of fatherhood that arose through these years from 1950 to 1980 have been reflected back to the public through these movie and television fathers. Such “reflection” has solidified and helped institutionalize the advancements in the role of the American father to its present model of a nurturer who sees great value in being responsible, accessible, and engaged with his children.